China shoulders major country responsibilities

Today is China’s National Day, the date when the People’s Republic of China was founded 69 years ago. Every year on October 1, the song “Today is Your Birthday, My Motherland” can be heard playing across the country. Among the lyrics of the song is the line “I release a flock of white doves to the sky in the morning; each of them holds an olive branch in its mouth.” The song reflects the desire of the Chinese people to pursue peace and growing prosperity.

A national flag raising ceremony is held at the Tian'anmen Square in Beijing, capital of China, on Oct. 1, 2018, the National Day, to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. [Photo: Xinhua/Yin Gang]

A national flag raising ceremony is held at the Tian’anmen Square in Beijing, capital of China, on Oct. 1, 2018, the National Day, to celebrate the 69th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. [Photo: Xinhua/Yin Gang]

In his keynote speech at the 2018 Beijing Summit of the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation in early September, China’s President Xi Jinping said, “Peace and development remain the underlying trend of our times. Indeed, they’re the call of the times. The international community should take our historical responsibility and respond to the call of the times with solidarity, vision, courage, and a sense of mission.” He said this when humanity is faced with unprecedented challenges and when the world is closely watching how China responds to global calls for development and peace.

At home, China has grappled with its own development challenges. As the world’s largest developing country, China is fully aware of what it means to be burdened by poverty. Since it began its policy of Reform and Opening Up 40 years ago, nearly 800 million Chinese people have worked their way above the poverty line, and China now has the world’s second largest economy. But the struggle is not over yet. More than 30 million people still live in poverty in China, and the country’s per capita GDP ranks 71st in the world. This is why the Communist Party of China has mobilized government and industry at all levels in a three-year campaign that seeks to ensure that by 2020 all Chinese people will live a moderately prosperous life.

Looking abroad, China has worked with countries around the world to share its knowledge, skills, and experience in development through platforms such as the Belt and Road Initiative. By adhering to the principles of joint consultation and collaboration for shared benefits, it has set itself the task of contributing to world prosperity. Since China first proposed the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, more than 100 countries and international organizations have signed cooperative agreements with China. Bilateral trade between China and Belt and Road countries has surpassed 5 trillion U.S. dollars. And China has invested 28.9 billion U.S. dollars in overseas economic and trade cooperation zones in those countries, creating 244,000 local jobs and generating more than 2 billion U.S. dollars of tax revenue.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has commended China’s commitment to sharing its success with African countries. At the Forum on China-Africa Cooperation, he said “Cooperation, based on the principles of the UN Charter, can benefit your peoples and can benefit the international community as a whole.” And Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta has said that the Belt and Road Initiative offers huge opportunities, which is why he is keen for Kenya, along with other African countries, to strengthen their partnerships with China.

As well as its contributions to world development, China has also made contributions to world peace. One of the ways it has done this is by becoming the biggest supplier of peacekeepers among the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, and the second largest contributor to the United Nations peacekeeping budget. Just three days ago, it sent another team of 100 peacekeepers on a one-year mission to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Over the past 28 years, China has dispatched 37,000 peacekeepers – and 21 of them made the ultimate sacrifice, losing their lives in the defense of others.

Nick Birnback, the spokesperson for the United Nations Peacekeeping Operations and Field Support Department, said that China sets a good example, since many members of the Security Council don’t contribute their own forces to peacekeeping operations. Some of the big powers contribute to the peacekeeping budget, which is an incredibly important part of the equation, but putting boots on the ground where it counts also sends a clear and unambiguous message of commitment to the mission of the United Nations.

No country can make itself an isolated island in today’s interconnected world. As a developing country, it will continue to expand its opening program and make new contributions to world peace and development, for the benefit of its own people and the community of nations.